ISLAMABAD, Dec 27: Former president and chief of Millat Party Sardar Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari faced severe criticism, both from his past friends and past arch rivals in the National Assembly on Saturday when he broached the subject of why he dismissed the Benazir Bhutto government in 1996.

Taking part in the general discussion on the 17th Amendment Bill, tabled by the government on Friday, Mr Leghari said that he had to dismiss the government of his own party as “it was involved in several violations of the Constitution.”

He said the government at the time was at loggerheads with the judiciary and the Supreme Court had sent a letter to him to take notice of the situation. He said there were incidents of custodial killings as well. He said that he had advised Benazir Bhutto several times to follow the rules and the Constitution, but she refused.

Soon after Mr Leghari’s speech, PPP MNA Syed Khursheed Shah took the floor and accused Mr Leghari of ditching his party and the leader. Mr Leghari left the house when Mr Shah started his speech.

The PPP MNA said Mr Leghari had assured Ms Bhutto several times that he would not use Article 58-2(B), come what may, “as she was his sister.”

Mr Shah said that at a dinner hosted by Mr Leghari for Prince Karim Aga Khan at that time, he along with Rao Sikandar Iqbal, Chaudhry Nourez Shakoor and some other party leaders held a meeting with Mr Leghari asking him not to take any action against the government of his own party.

“Mr Leghari, with tears in his eyes, told us that he would not dissolve the government even if someone asked him to do so on gunpoint,” Mr Shah said.

The PPP MNA said that when he had gone to a Baloch Sardar to seek his support for Farooq Leghari during the presidential election, he refused to give him vote, saying “Leghari’s father had deceived Quaid-i-Azam, and that he would also ditch the PPP.” Citing a meeting of the former president with some PML-N leaders, he also accused Mr Leghari of receiving a wristwatch as a gift from Nawaz Sharif as a reward for dismissing the Benazir government. He claimed that Mr Leghari made hectic efforts and lobbied for getting the second term of the presidentship.

At this point, acting parliamentary leader of the PML-N Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan stood on a point of order and denied that Nawaz Sharif had offered any gift to Mr Leghari. He asked the members to confine their speeches to the amendment bill. He, however, stated that the first shot was fired by Mr Leghari himself and he should not have done so.

Later, another PML-N MNA, Khwaja Asif, while taking part in the debate, also targeted Mr Leghari and Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao.

Without naming Mr Leghari, Mr Asif said if he started discussing personalities here then the issues of Mehran Bank Scam, Younus Habib and “the sale of Aimal Kasi” would also come under discussion.

He also criticized Mr Leghari for getting six members of his family elected in the National Assembly.

Similarly, without naming Mr Sherpao, he said the PML-N members had faced NAB charges and remained in various jails and did not flee the country. Everyone knows the name of Ahmed Kidwai, who was the ambassador of a country in the recent past, he said, and added everyone knew who had deposited millions of pounds in the Swiss bank accounts.

Mr Sherpao, on a point of order, said that Mr Kidwai was his friend and he would remain his friend.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Information Technology Awais Leghari defended allegations levelled against his father by ARD members. He said Mr Leghari dissolved the government of his own party as he kept the national interests supreme.

He said the nation knew that “the man who was XeN and a meter reader yesterday was now sitting in parliament.” He said perhaps Khursheed Shah was incapable of speaking on the amendment bill and that was the reason why he was discussing personal matters on the floor of the house.

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